We set sail on Thursday afternoon at nap time. Pitstop #1 included ice cream on the banks of the Mississippi. We drove into the night- fireflies, flashing windmill beacons and the big dipper- illuminating our way to South Dakota. Road construction lasted (almost) the entire way. We landed in Hannah's (Luke's sister) driveway in Sioux Falls, SD around 2 a.m.
A long day of interstate driving though SD with pitstops to stretch and eat. The afternoon was spent exploring and sweating at Badlands National Park- it was SO hot. Our national park passport got its first stamp! We pressed on to Spearfish, SD and camped at a KOA, surrounded by Sturgis-bound bikers.
We rose early to the sound of motorcycles and had breakfast with bikers. One leather-clad friendly guy offered to babysit juni for for the day- lol. We fueled up with Starbucks and headed north to Wyoming and Montana. It was flat and dusty and empty. Desperate for a stop, we pulled into a sketchy gas station for a fill-up and bottle of Pepsi from Mexico (the good stuff). We arrived in Billings, MT after hours of desolate National Forest and reservation land. Google maps led us astray and we ended up in (another) sketchy part of town, where we were warned by locals of the "transients" nearby. We took a much needed mental break at an indoor water-park. Juni splashed in the water and crawled around gleefully. After a pancake supper, we drove-on. At sunset we glimpsed mountains in the distance and saw our first buffalo, resting in a valley meadow. We made it to Gardiner, outside the north gate of Yellowstone, around 11p.m. We messed up our reservations, got stuck going up a very steep gravel mountain road, and every camp ground/ hotel in town had no vacancy. We got lucky on our way out of town and found a campsite to call home for the night. It was a LONG day.
We awoke to Elk in our campsite. With coffees in hand- we drove through the iconic stone arch into Yellowstone National Park. First stop was the terraces at Mammoth hot springs. Afterwards we took a dip in a natural hot tub (where the boiling and Gardner rivers meet). We set-up camp, played in the dirt, cooked over an open fire and concluded the day with a drive at dusk to search for wildlife in Haydens Valley (we saw a grizzly bear!).
Where we stayed:
Canyon Village Campground- Yellowstone
Where we played:
Badlands National Park
The Reef Indoor Water Park- Billings, MT
Yellowstone National Park
Pickermans- La Crosse, WI
The Pearl- La Crosse, WI
Good Earth Market- Billings, MT